Supporting Asylum Seekers Holistically

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Client Items Basket at The Advocates for Human Rights People who flee their home country seeking security and protection in the United States face a long and unpredictable asylum process, even when they’re able to access free legal services like those offered by The Advocates for Human Rights. Many countries support asylum seekers according to … Continue reading Supporting Asylum Seekers Holistically

Pho sets the table to celebrate immigrant communities: A call for recipes

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Photo credit: Dai Huynh Pull up a chair, to join Loan and Dai Huynh at their kitchen table, where Phở (Pho) defines Vietnam like no other dish. Take in their recipe, spiced by star anise and cinnamon, providing depth and dimension through fresh chicken and broth. Then take out your pen, to share with us your … Continue reading Pho sets the table to celebrate immigrant communities: A call for recipes

Darnella Frazier: 2021 Human Rights Defender Award Recipient

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At the 2021 Human Rights Awards Dinner, The Advocates for Human Rights presented Darnella Frazier with a Human Rights Defender Award. Below are the remarks from Jim O’Neal, Chair of The Advocates’ Board of Directors, and Traci Bransford, Darnella’s pro bono counsel and an attorney with Stinson LLP. Jim O’Neal, Board Chair: I am here … Continue reading Darnella Frazier: 2021 Human Rights Defender Award Recipient

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies: A 2021 Don & Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award Winner

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The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) at UC Hastings College of the Law protects human rights by working in the intersections of gender and migration. Karen Musalo, the founding director of GGRS, served as the lead attorney in Matter of Kasinga. In this groundbreaking 1996 legal victory, she won protection for Fauziya Kassindja, a young woman from Togo. Ms. Kassindja had fled to the United States to escape female genital mutilation (FGM) and … Continue reading The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies: A 2021 Don & Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award Winner

Honoring Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE): A 2021 Recipient of the Don & Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award

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At the heart of human rights work lies a strong commitment to justice and an ability collaborate with community partners – two qualities which Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) champions. WAVE has been a long-time partner of The Advocates for Human Rights. A network based in Vienna, Austria, WAVE is dedicated to uplifting and protecting … Continue reading Honoring Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE): A 2021 Recipient of the Don & Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award

The Stinson Rapid Response Regulation Team: A 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

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The Stinson Rapid Response Regulation Team consists of lawyers and paralegals from the Washington D.C. office of Stinson LLP. They have given invaluable help to The Advocates for Human Rights in protecting the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers. The team is headed by Harvey Reiter and Dennis Lane, two energetic, experienced, and highly motivated administrative law attorneys. Through Harvey’s position as chair of the working group on immigration for the newly formed Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, he has strategized with organizations like The … Continue reading The Stinson Rapid Response Regulation Team: A 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

Scott Smith: 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

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Photography by Bill Cameron.  Scott Smith has over 40 years of experience as a trial lawyer. In 2016, Scott joined The Advocates as a volunteer attorney and began representing clients by doing what he knows best: telling their stories. Over the years, Scott has given a voice to immigration detainees and labor trafficking victims by telling their stories and helping them navigate the complex U.S. immigration system. He works alongside interpreters, court observers, social service workers, and others to secure justice and freedom for The Advocates’ clients.   Scott shared … Continue reading Scott Smith: 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

The Family at the Backbone of The Advocates: Celebrating Twenty-Six Years of Volunteering

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Photography by Bill Cameron.   They say family is everything and Robin Phillips’ family is a case in point. Not only has Robin, the Executive Director and fearless leader of The Advocates, been able to engage volunteers throughout the world in the efforts of The Advocates, she has also engaged her family members who have now become some of the organization’s most loyal, dedicated, and long-standing volunteers. Robin’s mother Dotty Bieurance and Robin’s sister Rhonda Phillips have been volunteering for The Advocates for twenty-six years.   When … Continue reading The Family at the Backbone of The Advocates: Celebrating Twenty-Six Years of Volunteering

The Immigration Court Observers Leaders Team: A 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

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Photography by Bill Cameron.   At the Fort Snelling Immigration Court, hearings are open to the public. However, few people attend these hearings to observe the realities immigrants face under our immigration and justice system. The volunteer Immigration Court Observers of The Advocates for Human Rights are changing that. They monitor the proceedings and collect priceless … Continue reading The Immigration Court Observers Leaders Team: A 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

Celebrating Carrie Brasser: A 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

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Photography by Bill Cameron.  Carrie Brasser, a Minneapolis-based lawyer, is an inspiring volunteer for The Advocates for Human Rights who helps to make the organization’s work possible. Brasser began volunteering for The Advocates in 2018 and has been an enthusiastic volunteer since. Over the past three years, Brasser has participated in several projects for The Advocates, including representing clients in several asylum and immigration cases, traveling to Geneva as a member of the 2019 United Nations Study-Advocacy team, and participating in remote international advocacy in 2020 to brief members of … Continue reading Celebrating Carrie Brasser: A 2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

Once an Advocate, Always an Advocate: Patrick Finnegan

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In the winter of 2004, Patrick Finnegan’s first-time volunteering with The Advocates as an interpreter was off to a rough start. “I managed to get myself into a fender bender on the way there,” Patrick remembers. “Worse, it was my error… The lawyer almost had to call for another interpreter.” Thankfully, he made it. The … Continue reading Once an Advocate, Always an Advocate: Patrick Finnegan

Blaise Masinga: The Journey to Regaining Self-Power

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In a room full of refugees and asylum seekers, Blaise Masinga is reminded of the time when he was in their shoes. He had fled from South Africa to Minnesota, leaving behind his wife and two children. Pain, trauma, and uncertainty are still on the forefront of his mind when he thinks about that time. Similar to the journeys of many other asylum seekers, Blaise’s path to safety and reunification with his family was long, unpredictable, anxiety-filled, and lonesome.

The Advocates Welcomes UN Special Rapporteur’s Thematic Report on Rape

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UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerréDubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women.  U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (VAW) Dubravka Šimonovic has released her thematic report on rape as a grave and systematic violation of human rights and gender-based violence against women.  The Advocates contributed a detailed written response to the Special Rapporteur’s initial request for submissions about local laws on rape and sexual violence. The Advocates also joined the Expert Group Meeting on May 27, 2020 to discuss a wide variety of issues about rape laws and implementation. The Special Rapporteur invited The Advocates’ Women’s … Continue reading The Advocates Welcomes UN Special Rapporteur’s Thematic Report on Rape

Sentencing Derek Chauvin: The Rule of Law Should Control

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After the guilty verdicts in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, the next court proceeding will be the sentencing hearing. Judge Peter Cahill will determine what criminal penalty is appropriate for Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd.   In documents filed May 12, 2021, Judge Cahill announced his conclusion that Derek Chauvin’s actions support four aggravating sentencing factors in causing the death of George Floyd. Many are demanding and … Continue reading Sentencing Derek Chauvin: The Rule of Law Should Control

The Advocates & Partners Leverage the UN System to Ensure African States Don’t Flout a Seminal African Court Judgment Striking Down Mandatory Death Penalty Laws

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It has been more than a year since the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court) delivered a judgment upholding the right to life of five Tanzanian nationals who had been arbitrarily sentenced to death, but the Tanzanian Government has yet to give effect to the decision. In 2011, Ally Rajabu and … Continue reading The Advocates & Partners Leverage the UN System to Ensure African States Don’t Flout a Seminal African Court Judgment Striking Down Mandatory Death Penalty Laws

Sexual Assault Bill Moves Through Minnesota Senate: Needs Your Support

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On March 24, 2021, many Minnesotans were shocked to learn that state law does not punish the sexual violation of a victim who became intoxicated by drinking voluntarily. The Minnesota Supreme Court, in State v. Khalil, determined that the criminal-sexual-conduct statute applies only if the intoxicant was administered without the victim’s agreement. They overturned Mr. Khalil’s conviction and started a firestorm among members of the public and the … Continue reading Sexual Assault Bill Moves Through Minnesota Senate: Needs Your Support

Racism and Sexism in the Atlanta shootings: Must It Be An Either/Or?

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The recent shootings in Atlanta reveal what happens when racism and misogyny converge in tragedy. We often see only one issue (racism) while ignoring the other (misogyny). Yet the murder of women because they are women, known as femicides, is rampant. Every hour, six women are murdered by a man somewhere in the world. In the United States, an estimated 1,840 women were murdered by men and boys in 2018. And in Georgia, 74 women were killed by men during that same year. Despite the sky-high numbers, we don’t read … Continue reading Racism and Sexism in the Atlanta shootings: Must It Be An Either/Or?

As the US Launches Its Run for a Seat on the UN Human Rights Council, It Should Seek to Reform Its Own Ambivalence Toward International Human Rights Law

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When the US returned to the UN Human Rights Council as an observer in January 2021, it promptly announced that it would run for a seat on the Council. The Biden administration says it agrees with some criticisms of the Council, but that it will be best positioned to reform the Council when it again has a seat … Continue reading As the US Launches Its Run for a Seat on the UN Human Rights Council, It Should Seek to Reform Its Own Ambivalence Toward International Human Rights Law

Outrage as Turkish President Erdoğan Withdraws from the Istanbul Convention

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“Turkey’s sudden and unwarranted withdrawal” from the Istanbul Convention said U.S. President Joe Biden “is deeply disappointing”  and “ is a disheartening step backward for the international movement to end violence against women globally.” In the early hours of Saturday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a surprise decree withdrawing Turkey from the European treaty … Continue reading Outrage as Turkish President Erdoğan Withdraws from the Istanbul Convention

High Hopes for Substantial Progress on the Death Penalty Tempered by Mild Rhetoric from US Human Rights Council Delegation

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A wide view during the 19th Session Human Rights Council. 15 March 2012. Photo by Jean-Marc FerrŽ As the Trump administration drew to a close, anti-death penalty advocates were devastated by an unprecedented series of federal executions. Candidate, and later President-Elect Joe Biden, expressed his opposition to the death penalty as the killing spree continued, leading death penalty opponents to … Continue reading High Hopes for Substantial Progress on the Death Penalty Tempered by Mild Rhetoric from US Human Rights Council Delegation

The U.S. Returns to the UN Human Rights Council

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In its first major outing following its return to the UN Human Rights Council, the US delegation will participate on Wednesday, March 17, in an interactive debate on the outcome of the Council’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the US. Since the review took place in November of 2020, there’s been both a change of … Continue reading The U.S. Returns to the UN Human Rights Council

Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2021

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Credit: UN Women/Yihui Yuan. Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2021 compels us to pause and examine the lessons of the past year- the COVID pandemic, economic distress and the surging mandate of Black Lives Matter. Each phenomenon has made so more visible the challenges that historically face women across the globe. Importantly, these forces have also … Continue reading Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2021

Biennial Discussion on the Question of the Death Penalty: Research Discredits Claims That the Death Penalty Deters Crime

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In advance of the Biennial High-level Discussion on the Question of the Death Penalty during the upcoming 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, The Advocates and partners submitted a joint written statement refuting the idea that the death penalty deters crime. The panel discussion at the United Nations, which takes place tomorrow (February 23, 2021) aims to expose human rights … Continue reading Biennial Discussion on the Question of the Death Penalty: Research Discredits Claims That the Death Penalty Deters Crime

The Concerns Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) Pose to Free Speech

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NGOs and human rights defenders are increasingly found as the targets of a new strategy designed to limit the speech of those with less power or resources. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) refers to a process by which litigants target the defendants with what are usually frivolous defamation lawsuits. Although anti-SLAPP statutes, such as measures that provide for early dismissal of frivolous suits, can provide some safeguards against SLAPPs, many jurisdictions have yet to implement such statutes. SLAPPs also pose … Continue reading The Concerns Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) Pose to Free Speech

Human Rights at the State Capitol: Budgets

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Budgets. Human rights might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear this word, but respecting, protecting, and fulfilling human rights requires financial resources. Budgets are more than financial statements – they're statements of values and priorities. Budgets that fund activities with a positive impact on the exercise of rights can turn our values into reality.   Last week, the Minnesota Legislature began to hear details of the Governor’s budget recommendations. For example, the … Continue reading Human Rights at the State Capitol: Budgets

Human Rights at the State Capitol: Week 1 January 25-29

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It is a truth universally accepted that everyone has human rights. These rights are indivisible, interrelated, and interdependent. One right does not stand siloed from other rights, and fulfilling one right requires that other rights are fulfilled, too.    We see this principle reflected in the Minnesota Legislature’s work this week. Several committees in the Minnesota House of Representatives are reviewing the Select Committee on Racial Justice Report to the … Continue reading Human Rights at the State Capitol: Week 1 January 25-29

The Advocates Welcomes First Steps, Calls for Sustained Commitment to Human Rights

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As the United States transitions to a new administration, The Advocates for Human Rights looks forward to a renewed commitment to human rights in our domestic and foreign policy. Human rights standards provide a foundation to ensure that policy making is just, fair, and respects human dignity.  Topping the list, we welcome the end of … Continue reading The Advocates Welcomes First Steps, Calls for Sustained Commitment to Human Rights

A Day in the Life of an International Justice Program Intern: Learning About LGBTI Rights, Systemic Racism, and More

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Sarah Borden took a break from her studies at Yale to intern with The Advocates' International Justice Program. Read about her experience here.

The Advocates condemns the outgoing administration’s killing spree

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In the early morning hours of January 13, 2021, the United States government violated its international obligations in taking the life of Lisa Montgomery. Lisa Montgomery was convicted of a terrible crime. But her conviction came after a trial in which the judge and jury were not given the full story of the horrific childhood abuse, … Continue reading The Advocates condemns the outgoing administration’s killing spree

Citing human rights concerns, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calls on the United States to stay the executions of two women

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In December 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued resolutions urging the United States Government to stay the unjust executions of two American women. For Lisa Montgomery, whose execution is set for January 12, 2021, this order comes at a time of desperate need. In Article 91/2020, the IACHR outlines the horrific and prolonged torture and trauma Ms. Montgomery suffered since the age of 11, which led to the development of multiple psycho-social disabilities. International standards … Continue reading Citing human rights concerns, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calls on the United States to stay the executions of two women

The Role of Lawyers in Human Rights Advocacy Work

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When I began law school, I knew that I would like to one day work in advocacy or human rights work, preferably in the space of international law. While I was aware of organizations like The Advocates for Human Rights where these kinds of legal positions were available, I did not really understand the role … Continue reading The Role of Lawyers in Human Rights Advocacy Work

New Year, Renewed Hope

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In ancient Roman religion and myth, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, and ending is known as Janus. Janus is typically depicted as having two faces, looking to the future and to the past.   Janus, or what Janus represents, is no doubt on the minds of many as we close out one year and begin another. As we reflect on the … Continue reading New Year, Renewed Hope

Asylum Seeker Encourages Pro Bono Attorneys, “We Can Do It.”

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Mrs. A and her husband with Professor Steve Meili and other members of the U of M legal team in November 2019 “We are not afraid anymore.” states Mrs. A, a client at The Advocates for Human Rights, who along with her husband and two children, recently received an asylum grant after four long years … Continue reading Asylum Seeker Encourages Pro Bono Attorneys, “We Can Do It.”

The Advocates for Human Rights Addresses Systemic Racism in US Policing Before Two UN Bodies

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The flag of the United Nations In 2013, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade for Persons of African Descent, to be observed from 2015 to 2024. More than halfway through the Decade, little progress has been made toward addressing the systemic racism faced by people of African descent in the US and around the world. As … Continue reading The Advocates for Human Rights Addresses Systemic Racism in US Policing Before Two UN Bodies

Establishing the Death Penalty for Rape in Bangladesh Does Little to Protect Victims of Violence Against Women

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16 Days of Activism - November 25 through Human Rights Day, December 10 This October, a wave of protests and rallies spread across Bangladesh following several high-profile sexual assaults. In response, Bangladesh amended the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act to allow the death penalty for rape. This response from the government does not protect women victims of sexual assault, but rather deters them … Continue reading Establishing the Death Penalty for Rape in Bangladesh Does Little to Protect Victims of Violence Against Women

Celebrating Human Rights Day: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights

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Each year on December 10, people all around the world celebrate Human Rights Day.  The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption on 10 December 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global statement of international human rights principles. The UDHR was the first international document that spelled out the “basic civil, political, economic, social and … Continue reading Celebrating Human Rights Day: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights

Live from Geneva: The United States Takes Center Stage

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The Advocates' scorecard to track recommendations from the international community There may be a few reasons the world’s eyes are on the United States in recent days, but for three and a half hours on Monday, those eyes will be focusing not on election results, recounts, or infection rates, but on our country’s human rights … Continue reading Live from Geneva: The United States Takes Center Stage

Live from Geneva! The Pandemic Won’t Stop The Advocates’ Human Rights Advocacy: What You Need to Know about the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 36th Session

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A wide view during the 19th Session Human Rights Council. 15 March 2012. Photo by Jean-Marc FerrŽ The next two weeks are exciting times to be engaged in human rights advocacy, and you can be a part of it, helping to amplify the voices of The Advocates For Human Rights, our clients, and our partners around the world.  Three times a year, the … Continue reading Live from Geneva! The Pandemic Won’t Stop The Advocates’ Human Rights Advocacy: What You Need to Know about the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 36th Session

Celebrating United Nations Day 2020

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The Advocates' staff and volunteers at The United Nations in Geneva October 24, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter, the document that remains the foundation for the United Nations system. On this United Nations Day, The Advocates for Human Rights rededicates itself to leveraging the strength … Continue reading Celebrating United Nations Day 2020

Do Consular Notification Rights Matter? In Capital Cases, They Can Mean The Difference Between Life And Death.

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A young black man, born in Germany, moved with his family to the United States as a small child, settling in rural Alabama. Let’s call him T. Although T struggled in school from the very start, and in developing the necessary skills to manage his life on a day-to-day basis, he received virtually no help – no medical, psychological, or real educational interventions to identify or develop skills to cope with what would … Continue reading Do Consular Notification Rights Matter? In Capital Cases, They Can Mean The Difference Between Life And Death.

Indonesia, the Interahamwe and… ICE: Why Forced Sterilization in Immigration Detention is a Bellwether for Large-Scale Human Rights Abuses

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The United States conducts human rights programs and judges other countries’ record of human rights, is part of the world community which consistently condemns crimes against humanity, and has entered wars and supported international missions under the auspices of stopping and preventing such atrocities.  And yet, whistleblower allegations indicate that the United States Government is … Continue reading Indonesia, the Interahamwe and… ICE: Why Forced Sterilization in Immigration Detention is a Bellwether for Large-Scale Human Rights Abuses

Police Use of Force Laws: Minnesota Falls Short

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Today, a Minnesota court will hear several significant motions in the cases against Derek Chavin and the three other former Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd. Among the matters Judge Peter Cahill will consider in the September 11 hearing are the state’s motion for a joint trial of all defendants and … Continue reading Police Use of Force Laws: Minnesota Falls Short

Criminal Charges Reflect, Reinforce Power Imbalance Between Law Enforcement and Communities

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The chest camera footage of former Minneapolis police officers Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane—two of the men involved in killing George Floyd—has been made available online. The opening minutes of video illuminate a casual brutality and violence by the police. Lane approaches the car from behind, banging on the window with his Maglite. He clearly … Continue reading Criminal Charges Reflect, Reinforce Power Imbalance Between Law Enforcement and Communities

Navigating a New Normal in Relationship Building

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Samantha Nelson, summer Development Intern at The Advocates For Human Rights and senior at University of Michigan, Class of 2021 Before joining The Advocates as an intern, I had only a vague idea how nonprofits operate and knew little about the meaning of and working in development. Eight weeks later, and I can confidently say that my knowledge … Continue reading Navigating a New Normal in Relationship Building

Poland’s Dangerous Withdrawal From The Istanbul Convention

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Introduction Poland has ratified the Istanbul Convention, yet announced plans to withdraw from the treaty. Related attacks on reproductive rights, the independence of the judiciary, sex education, and civil society have abounded. The Istanbul Convention The Istanbul Convention, or the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, was … Continue reading Poland’s Dangerous Withdrawal From The Istanbul Convention

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Armed and Unaccountable, Federal Forces Use Tactics Honed at the Border against Protestors

The deployment of anonymous armed federal agents, now identified as part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in Portland has yielded shocking reports of arbitrary arrests, detention without charge, and short-term disappearances, in addition to injuries to protesters resulting from use of sub-lethal force and chemical agents. Garnering less attention, but no less troubling, … Continue reading Armed and Unaccountable, Federal Forces Use Tactics Honed at the Border against Protestors

Why Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights Is Wrong

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently unveiled the draft report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights (Commission). During the event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia (“a place intentionally chosen”, even if it is currently closed to the public), Secretary Pompeo gave a speech entitled “Unalienable Rights and the Securing of Freedom”.    “And it’s important – it’s important for every American, for every American diplomat, … Continue reading Why Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights Is Wrong

Justice for George Floyd: UN Human Rights Council Shines Spotlight on Systemic Racism and Police Brutality

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The March session of the UN Human Rights Council was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But on Monday morning, that session resumed in Geneva with a dramatic opening. The President of the Human Rights Council gave the floor to Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the Council and coordinator of the body’s African Group: Dieudonné W. Désiré … Continue reading Justice for George Floyd: UN Human Rights Council Shines Spotlight on Systemic Racism and Police Brutality

Sarah Musgrave: Honoring our 2020 Volunteer Award Winners

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Sarah Musgrave, Volunteer Award Recipient, honored at The Advocates' Human Rights Awards Dinner 2020 Sarah Musgrave is one of the five recipients of The Advocates for Human Rights Volunteer Awards. She is an active member in the Minneapolis community and committed to her volunteer work. Musgrave helps set the welcoming and supportive tone for The … Continue reading Sarah Musgrave: Honoring our 2020 Volunteer Award Winners

Biden Starts to Hit Stride on Asylum Protections

World Refugee Day (June 20) marked six months of the Biden Administration.  In that time, The Advocates and other organizations have been extremely disappointed with the President’s failure to deliver on promises for swift and bold action on immigration and human rights.  While we celebrated the first days of Administration with executive orders ending the Muslim and African Bans, laying-out plans … Continue reading Biden Starts to Hit Stride on Asylum Protections